MySQL User Groups : migrating event management to Facebook

Background

For several years, MySQL User Groups have been organizing their meetings with Meetup.com, a service that simplifies event management. However, MySQL User group organizers received a surprise message from Meetup.com a few days ago.

We were all taken by surprise by Meetup's sudden announcement and allegation that MySQL "did not want to sponsor" the users groups, because there is a valid agreement between MySQL and meetup.com. The agreement is still in effect, ending on June 10, 2009.

Apparently, there was some miscommunication inside Meetup.com, because the group organizers received a message stating that they should now pay for meetup services, which they used to get for free, thanks to MySQL sponsorship.

It took us a few days to track the origin of the misunderstanding, and when we thereafter got in touch with meetup.com, we learned that their business model has changed.

Moreover, they would no longer accept sponsorship agreements like the one we have had in place so far.

Current situation

Meetup.com's business model differs considerably from before.

This is the summary description of how the sponsorship works, as received from meetup.com:

"All organizers will need to pay their Meetup subscription fees and through sponsorship can receive financial support from participating in a sponsorship."

Without sponsoring, each MySQL User Group would end up spending 12 US dollars a month, or 144 dollars a year, for the ability to use Meetup.com's services.

What now?

MySQL User Groups are obviously free to use any service for event management and invitations. However, as Meetup.com has terminated our agreement, we in Sun's MySQL Community Team will no longer sponsor nor recommend the usage of Meetup.com for our User Groups. In this sense, while Meetup.com's announcement that MySQL did not want to sponsor the fees was originally not true, it has now become reality.

That said, we want to thank Meetup.com for graciously hosting MySQL groups so far. It's been a great service! We wish Meetup.com good luck with their new business model. And obviously, any user group that wishes to stay with Meetup.com is free to do so, but in that case, they will be responsible for the fees themselves.

The Community Team recommends the MySQL User Groups to manage from now on their user group invitations with Facebook. We've been in contact with Facebook on this, and they're thrilled at the idea of hosting MySQL groups.

And as you know, their service is free of charge.

We know such a migration is going to be a strain for many of you, and for this reason Colin has prepared an article to assist you in your migration (It's in Colin's blog ).

If your group has been inactive for a while, this might be a great time to re-invigorate your users with a change in scenery!

If you need a mailing list for your user group, we will gladly assist anyone who needs a dedicated list, like we've done for several groups before: http://lists.mysql.com/#ug.

The main point is to keep the groups working, and to keep meeting other users, regardless of the system used to spread the news.

If there are practical problems related to your migration, please let us know. If you would like to use different networks to organize your group, such as in particular Xing for German speaking MySQL User Groups, feel free, and let everyone know.

In particular, make sure to update your Group's whereabouts on the MySQL Forge Wiki.

Happy Meetings!

Comments:

And like clockwork, its ready:

http://www.bytebot.net/blog/archives/2009/05/11/using-facebook-groups-over-meetupcom

Posted by Colin Charles on May 11, 2009 at 11:02 AM GMT #

The textual (not facebook logo) link to Facebook is broken:

It links to:
<a href="http://facebook.com&quot;">

Posted by Justin Swanhart on May 11, 2009 at 11:02 AM GMT #

@Justin,
Thanks. Fixed

Posted by Giuseppe Maxia on May 11, 2009 at 12:03 PM GMT #

Sorry to say,

but this is so inprofessional.

Posted by Amro Moussa on May 11, 2009 at 02:20 PM GMT #

Amro,

I totally agree. It was completely unprofessional the way Meetup.com acted, sending messages to all the User Group leaders without any warning whatsoever to MySQL. Basically leaders like me were told "The MySQL Sponsorship is ending, here's a link to pay!"

Note that MySQL/Sun is not \*forcing\* anyone off Meetup.com. The Meetup.com folks have decided not to renew a long-standing agreement (MySQL has been sponsoring my meetup group for almost 4 years now!) -- again, with no warning to MySQL before informing the group leaders. Meetup.com was not open to any agreement other than cash for the groups, which would cost Sun/MySQL $15,000 per year to continue their sponsorship, and if more groups want sponsorship, it would cost more. And with Sun having all those layoffs a few months ago, I doubt they can justify $15,000+ in cash yearly.

That being said, User Groups are \*allowed\* to stay on Meetup.com, if they pay the fees somehow (out-of-pocket, donations, other sponsorships).

Being forced between a rock and a hard place, Sun/MySQL is showing how to migrate to a free service, so that user groups don't \*have\* to pay. That's both professional and community-minded.

Posted by Sheeri Kritzer Cabral on May 12, 2009 at 04:35 AM GMT #

I agree now, long life freewares.

Posted by Amro Moussa on May 12, 2009 at 08:06 AM GMT #

Yes, it's most unfortunate that meetup didn't contact the mysql community team before the end of the sponsorship - I was the one who set up the original arrangement, and I just had a yearly chat with the gang at meetup after that to renew. When I left MySQL I passed that on to Lenz. However, it's also very easy to make a mental (or calendar) note that "it's that time of year again" and that would've preempted anything.

Interesting that none of the MySQL Community team are themselves organisers or meetups/usergroups, they'd have been informed (just like Sheeri and I were) earlier also rather than having to get info pass on.

Re the $15k (just quoting what others have quoted, I don't know how the number was calculated)... while it may seem like a lot of cash, that's a tiny price for the huge benefit of the user groups globally. Even a single user group closing shop rather than moving to facebook, offsets this cost even in the short term.
It's just a matter of how you define your bottom line. Yes it's an expenditure here, but just avoiding it in this way is possibly quite shortsighted. Next thing Facebook might do something to cause people to leave there, and so on. And every time a few usergroups will drop off. A loss for the community. There's only so much volunteers will put up with in terms of fuss/effort.

Posted by Arjen Lentz on May 13, 2009 at 01:41 AM GMT #

Arjen,

How do you know that there wasn't a reminder set in place? With a contract ending June 10th, I would have reminded myself on May 10th. This whole thing started at the end of April.

I made up $15k, because Giuseppe told me that 150 out of 270 MySQL user groups on meetup.com chose to be sponsored by MySQL. User Groups cost $144 per year at their cheapest, but let's assume that meetup.com offers MySQL a 30% discount, so it's $100 per group per year, that's $15k.

I agree that the $15k is worth it, but a laid-off Sun employee might be upset about the expenditure.

Also, you're forgetting that for 4 years, MySQL and Meetup.com made it \*easier\* for user groups to get started. If it weren't for the partnership, would groups have started? Would they have formed on Facebook? I for one am keeping my group on meetup.com, because I like the interface and it's worth it for me to find a sponsor, or donate the $$ myself, rather than convince 500 people to move to Facebook.

However, acting like MySQL is negligent and that's causing loss of user groups is missing the point -- whether or not MySQL knew ahead of time, Sun never would have spent the cash, so it's a moot point. The end result would have been the same, and in the end, 4 years of sponsorship has created many groups, and I know from experience that some groups may drop off, but many will live on that never would have started if not for the sponsorship.

Though nobody wants to see the sponsorship end, there is more good than bad. And Arjen, your business is doing well, maybe you can sponsor 1/3 or more of the user groups, if you have thousands of dollars lying around. It's easy to spend other people's money.

Posted by Sheeri Kritzer Cabral on May 13, 2009 at 04:43 AM GMT #

Arjen,

Just for the record:

The sponsorship had not ended yet - it was due for renewal in June. How do you know that we weren't planning on contacting Meetup before that date?

I am an organizer of the Hamburg MySQL Meetup, which uses meetup.com as well. So I did receive the same note, but I was on the road between two conferences at that time and was not able to take care of it immediately.

And if you think that 15k$ is a tiny price, feel free to take care of the bill. We unfortunately don't have the budget for it - if you haven't noticed, Sun is currently laying off lots of people to save costs...

Posted by Lenz Grimmer on May 13, 2009 at 06:58 AM GMT #

Indeed, the various profitable MySQL-related service providers including Open Query have offered such assistance. We were actually in touch with meetup.com earlier but Sun felt the need to effectively block that round of communication - more time wasted.

Posted by Arjen Lentz on May 14, 2009 at 01:34 AM GMT #

As Arjen notes: "Interesting that none of the MySQL Community team are themselves organisers or meetups/usergroups, they'd have been informed (just like Sheeri and I were) earlier also rather than having to get info pass on."

Therein, lies the frustration with MySQL Community Relations--they aren't part of the User Group Community and seem unable to handle Relations to it. I'm only surprised they didn't chant the full social media mantra: "Follow MySQL User Groups on Facebook & Twitter" ;-)

Seeing offers of support come from various sources in the Community is great and not unexpected. A member in Minnesota stepped up immediately as organizer out of his pocket, and a related group sharing the sponsorship has already moved to it's own web site.

Cheers to Sheeri and others for moving the issue forward.

Posted by David Skarjune on May 14, 2009 at 05:10 PM GMT #

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